It wasn’t too long ago that 14-year-old Alex Meikle was spotted shovelling snow at several bus stops on the West Shore to help out commuters.
Now, he’s started a Facebook group called “Greater Victoria Missing Persons” to help locate people in the city that have gone missing or have run away.
“I was a runaway youth myself,” Meikle said. “I was an angsty teenager and didn’t like the way my mother was running the house so I decided I can do better on my own … I lived on the streets in Victoria and Vancouver for the entire summer.”
Meikle said he eventually decided living on the streets wasn’t the best idea, so he came home.
After being active for four days the group already had more than 600 members. He launched it on Sept. 16, just two days before Saanich police sent out a release about a missing youth.
Meikle tracked down the girl’s mom, asking for permission to help find her daughter. When he got the go-ahead, he made a poster which was shared online and managed to reach out to the missing youth through social media. He said he tried to keep the conversation casual so she would respond.
“It was a shock to both me and her mother when she replied on Snapchat,” Meikle said.
He was in the middle of negotiating a safe return home when Saanich police found the youth. He noted police were aware of all of his moves during the process.
After living on the street for a couple of months, Meikle said he managed to make some contacts in the community as well. He believes his connections can help in locating missing persons in the region.
Meikle also gives parents of missing youth his mother’s phone number, since she knows what it feels like to have a child go missing.
Before starting the group, Meikle said he helped find three missing persons as well.
His next steps are to reach out to other police forces in the hopes that he can work with them in the future.
Meikle, who will be turning 15 this year, said he would like to become an advanced care paramedic.
When asked why, he had a simple answer.
“I really like helping people.”